Times Sports Editor
The traditional football rivalry between the Northview Knights and West Vigo had a very somber tone as the teams took the field Saturday afternoon in a game postponed from Friday night following a tragic accident that took Northview High School student, Halie Hite's life days before.
Hite, who was a cheerleader and a member of the Northview Guard, was remembered with a moment of silence prior to the game and the football team wore her initials, "HH" on wristbands and on a sticker worn on helmets.
Though the conference game went on a day later than originally scheduled, Northview coach George Gettle expressed what many people thought.
"It's times like this where obviously you realize football isn't that important. You know, as a team and a coaching staff we would like to give our best wishes and send our prayers to the Hite Family," Gettle said. "I know it's a very tough situation and a tough time for them and as a parent of two children, I just can't imagine what they are going through. They've got a lot of support in the community and they've got a lot of support from this football team. Our prayers are with them."
The Knights appeared as if they would run away and hide over the game's first 10 minutes.
Northview got the opening kick off and put the ball in the endzone in just seven plays, marching 40 yards as Trent Lancaster threw to Drake Stevenson for 16 yards and hit him again for five yards to the Vikings nine-yard line. Damon Hyatt would dash into the endzone from three yards out for the game's first score.
West Vigo wouldn't keep the ball very long on its first possession as running back John Burt fumbled the ball on the Vikings third play of the series. Junior Hubbard recovered for the Knights to set up Northview in excellent field position.
Lancaster went back to the air on the first play, hooking up with Zac Niehaus for an acrobatic 35-yard strike that Niehaus caught with one hand and Hyatt did the remainder of the work, scoring from 10 yards out for a 13-0 lead.
West Vigo went four and out and the ensuing punt set the Knights up at their own 37-yard line. Following an offsides call on Northview, Lancaster raced 16 yards on the first two plays of the drive and then found Niehaus for a 51-yard reception and a 20-0 lead.
Northview's three TD strikes came within a 3:40 span of the first quarter.
"Similar to last week, we came out like gang busters, ran some no-huddle offense and maybe surprised (West Vigo) a little bit," Gettle said. "We executed really well, everything was clicking, the line was blocking, we were catching passes and running after the catch. So everything is kind of clicking and you know when everything is clicking like that we can be pretty explosive and obviously that is the ramifications of it, 20 points in 10 minutes."
The Vikings finally got moving on their next drive, picking up a first down on a 12-yard pass from Lance Garrett to Burt. Eight-yard carries from Cole Lydick and Nick Cramer moved the ball to the Knights' 34-yard line. A penalty on the Knights for an offside infraction gave West Vigo a first down after they faced a fourth-and-2 situation.
With a first down at Northview's 29-yard line, the Vikings looked as if they would get on the board, but Garrett was sacked for a 10-yard loss on the next play and the drive stalled on a fourth down conversion attempt at the 28-yard line.
The Knights had an opportunity to add to their early scoring barrage, but turned the ball over on a fumble at the end of a 29-yard run by Hyatt.
The next Knights' possession, Lancaster found Andrew Butts for a 12-yard gain, Jon Bradshaw for 11 yards before Stevenson gathered in a 19-yard gain. From there however, three straight dropped passes stalled a promising drive for the Knights and swung momentum much to Gettle's displeasure.
"We scored on our first three drives and you can't ask for anything better to start the game, but I'm a little bit disappointed because it's similar to last week," Gettle admitted. "We got out front, it's like we got complacent, we dropped like four straight passes where we had guys wide open that stopped a drive, we fumbled and we threw an interception. So those are things where mentally we have got to start staying in the game a little bit longer even though things are going well for us. It's a long game, it's 48 minutes and you've got to play start to finish."
West Vigo wasn't going to give up as they got a 14-yard run from Lydick and an eight-yard gain by Ryan Roach. Garrett then found Lydick across the middle for a 21-yard TD pass with 5:59 left in the first half to make a game of it.
Garrett ended Northview's final drive of the first half on an interception of a Lancaster pass near the goal line.
Leading tentatively, 20-7 at the half, the Knights needed a defensive stand as West Vigo took the ball to start the third quarter.
Northview would take advantage of a bad snap on third down to force a three-and-out series from the Vikings and did the same on the next possession. The Knights got its passing game going again as Lancaster found Joel Rector for nine yards and Stevenson for 38 yards before capping the drive with a one-yard QB sneak for a 26-7 lead.
The Knights defense held the Vikings to just two first downs in the second half and just 24 total yards.
"Defensively we made at least one adjustment at halftime and we just got on the kids, look (West Vigo) is eating up the clock in the second quarter, they had a couple of drives where they really ate up the clock and kept our offense off the field, which was good for them," Gettle said. "We've got to get off the field on third down and give our offense an extra opportunity to get out there. Collectively, second half, a little better effort."
The final score by the Knights came on Hyatt's third TD run of the game to open the fourth quarter.
Lancaster threw for 245 yards in the game with Stevenson going for 120 yards on eight catches while Niehaus had 92 yards in the first half on three receptions.
The Knights improve to 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the WIC with the final regular season game coming at Brown County on Friday night. The sectional pairings will take place on Tuesday night at 6 p.m.
NV -- Damon Hyatt three-yard run (kick failed), 9:33
NV -- Hyatt 10-yard run (Niehaus kick), 7:54
NV -- Trent Lancaster 51-yard pass to Zac Niehaus (Niehaus kick), 5:53
WV -- Lance Garrett 21-yard pass to Cole Lydick (Nathan Gregg kick), 5:59
NV -- Lancaster one-yard run (kick failed), 5:09
NV -- Hyatt one-yard run (James Trackwell kick), 11:56
Rushing -- Northview: Hyatt 8-93 3TD, Stevenson 1-7, Lancaster 14-51, Hauser 2-9; West Vigo: Aff 4-(-11), Garrett 7-(-7), Burt 3-6, Lydick 10-39, Roach 7-16, Boatman 1-(-1).
Passing -- Northview: Lancaster 14-21 333 yards, 1 Int. 1 TD; West Vigo 10-23 101 yards, 1 TD, 0 Int.
Receiving -- Northview: Niehaus 3-92 TD, Bradshaw 2-23, Stevenson 9-126, Butts 3-81, Rector 1-10.